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Tag Archives: challenge

Drifting Back Into Church

For a decade I stood in front of teenagers as a Bible teacher informing students of the importance of attending church. At the time, one of my close friends was a famous author who wrote books on Church Growth and Spiritual Gifts. When I was able to teach a couple of elective courses, I began to implement this material into my curriculum. Thus, I challenged juniors and seniors to ascertain their spiritual gifts. Once discovered students were encouraged to apply these talents within a local congregation or youth group.

But sin, finding an opportunity through the commandment [to express itself] produced in me every kind of coveting and selfish desire. For without the Law sin is dead [the recognition of sin is inactive]. I was once alive without [knowledge of] the Law; but when the commandment came [and I understood its meaning], sin became alive and I died [since the Law sentenced me to death]. 10 And the very commandment which was intended to bring life, actually proved to bring death for me, Romans 7:8-10.

As Easter Sunday approaches I find myself in an awkward predicament. Due to a strange sleep schedule, working nights, my body has become lazy, like the sluggard described by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. After attending church in January, other priorities have replaced church resulting in a three month absence. A rationalizing mind hides behind the two movie scripts I have been working on due May 1st. Despite pulling all nighters writing each weekend, there is no excuse for abandoning a body of believers. Thus, I find myself as a casual attender, like the Christmas and Easter crowd who will flock to mass this weekend.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within two chapters of the Bible, the apostle reveals some sort of secret sin that haunted him. Romans 7 hints to times in life when Paul wanted to do right, but the sinful nature caused him to do that what he despised. Every Saturday night I have intentions to go to church on Sunday, but my flesh has become too weak snuffing out the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the passage above, Paul reveals a physical ailment that hindered his daily life. This pain was a messenger of Satan attempting to steal Paul’s joy. If everything goes as planned, I will be drifting back into church Sunday. However, unless I tame my flesh like 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, I won’t become the man of God the Lord desires.

by Jay Mankus

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Bowing Down to Spiritual Bullies

Joel Kaplan has been a lifelong friend of Brett Kavanaugh.  This relationship compelled Kaplan to attend Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing as a sign of support.  This is what friends do, to be there in times of need for those they care about.  The only problem for Kaplan is that he is the Vice President of Facebook.  As employees of Facebook saw Joel on television sitting behind Kavanaugh, staff became outraged, demanding an explanation.  When Kaplan returned to work, he was pressured, bullied into apologizing for being a friend of Kavanaugh.

Then the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped and served the Baals, Judges 2:11.

Whenever there is an absence of spiritual leadership, individuals begin to follow human nature.  After the death of Joshua, who was used to lead Israel into God’s promised land, there was a spiritual void.  When no one volunteered to stand up to show others the way, Jews began to do what was right in their own eyes.  Throughout the course of history, this cycle repeats itself until convicted hearts repent, confessing the error of their ways by turning back to follow God.  Based upon recent current events, progressive leaders are stepping up to redefine right from wrong.

And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods from the gods of the peoples who were around them, and they bowed down to them, and offended and provoked the Lord to anger. 13 So they abandoned the Lord and served Baal [the pagan god of the Canaanites] and the Ashtaroth, Judges 2:12-13.

Apparently, there is some new Bible, source of truth, that I am not aware of.  This new standard evidently claims that president Trump is evil and anyone who follows or supports him is a bad person.  These beliefs are being enforced by protestors, hoping to scare others from publicly supporting likeminded candidates, leaders and politicians.  While president Trump has his flaws, allowing loose lips and undisciplined tweets to express unnecessary comments, no one should bow down to bullies.  As worldly influences continues to challenge what you think and believe, may the power of the Holy Spirit give you the courage to stand up and reinforce the values you hold dear.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Something’s Gotta Give

Depending upon where you reside, you might come in contact with individuals who exhibit alarming qualities.  Some people go through life pretending to possess certain beliefs, principles and virtues.  Unfortunately, these qualities are rarely demonstrated, cheap words void of action, behavior or any semblance of consistency.  To successfully confront these type of people, you have to speak in hypothetical terms.  Like a client during a session with a psychologist claiming they have a friend who has an issue, when in reality they are the person in the story.  Thus, you have to carefully approach certain situations in question with kid gloves.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

This is the strategy the prophet Nathan takes in the passage above.  Nathan knew King David, a former shepherd, would respond to injustice committed against one of his previous occupations.  This story spoke to David, enraged by what the awful outcome.  Like a fisherman using the perfect bait for a specific fish, David bought the hypothetical analogy hook, line and sinker.  The illustration uncovered David’s act adultery with Bathsheba, the killing of her husband and eventual marriage.  When truth reveals the darkness of sin, something’s gotta give.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

As more and more people grow up without attending church, this upcoming generation uses the amoral excuse, not knowing right from wrong.  The Bible uses darkness or night as imagery to explain illustrate those who attempt to avoid following or live by rules in this life.  However, you can only be amoral for so long, Romans 1:2o.  According to the apostle Paul, there are countless invisible qualities that daily reflect the presence of God.  These signs like a sunrise, sunset or rainbow shine light into the darkness of this world.  Sooner or later, God will send someone into your life to challenge, convict or inspire you to come clean by confessing previous transgressions.  The next time light magnifies a blatant flaw in your life, something’s gotta give.  When it does, choose repentance over rebellion.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Words that Elevate Faith

In the early 1980’s, Bill McCartney was an ordinary college football coach at the University of Colorado.  Following a breakthrough, McCartney realized that he couldn’t treat each player the same.  To get the most out of his team, some athletes were challenged, others provided with words of encouragement and an occasion, a hug to elevate their psyche.  This communication style lifted the Buffalo’s to the 1990 National Championship.  Later on that same year, God inspired McCartney to found Promises Keepers, a ministry to strengthen the faith of married men.

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes,” Mark 9:23.

When the disciples vowed to heal a father’s son, he hoped healing would come soon.  Unfortunately, these novice healers weren’t able to improve this boy’s situation, powerless against the strong demonic forces within this child.  As Jesus approached some Pharisees speaking with his disciples, He was likely shaking his head in disappointment.  Like a doctor examining a patient, Jesus asks the father for a brief history of his son’s condition.  Following their discussion, Jesus recognized the need for prayer mixed with words that might elevate the faith of this boy’s father.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”- Mark 9:24

If you read in between the lines, belief or lack there of is a contributing factor to one’s faith.  Those who have never been exposed to healing, miracles or a supernatural event will likely doubt the presence of a higher, supreme being.  Yet, it only takes one encounter, experience or positive influence to ignite the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, don’t listen to the naysayers, negative voices and pessimistic chatter which abounds.  Rather, walk as Jesus did and inspire others like Coach McCartney so that the words that come out of your mouth will elevate the faith of those around you.

by Jay Mankus

Tebow Time

One of the wisest kings to walk the face of the earth once said, “there is a time for everything.”  Sometime in the past month, the mind of Chip Kelly, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, decided his roster needed one more player prior to the start of this season’s first mini-camp.  Finalized last weekend, its officially Tim Tebow time in the city of brotherly love.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, Ecclesiastes 3:1

Whenever you have a polarizing figure, the world of Twitter explodes with opinions on either side of the fence.  Since the Tebow signing, NFL experts have given their typical criticism, expecting Tim to fail before he evens starts this new journey.  While these commentators may be correct, time will be the ultimate judge.

God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end, Ecclesiastes 3:11.

If individuals believed everything their peers told them, dreams would not exist.  Against all odds, the human will can elevate the unlikeliest characters to become the next Rudy Ruettiger, Vince Papale and Kurt Warner.  In my own pursuit of happiness, I’ve learned to reach for the stars and if you fail perhaps you might inspire someone else to do the same.  As for Tim Tebow, only the Lord knows what the future holds, but for now let Tim enjoy the next challenge in his life.

by Jay Mankus

All In; Not Just When You Feel Like It

Sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach, unable to eat everything that you put on your plate.  In the same manner, when individuals open their mouths, empty vows spoken without any action leave a trail of broken promises.  This is not the standard Jesus set for his disciples.  Rather, he challenged his followers to be all in, not just when they feel like it.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, Mark 12:30.

Based upon the interpretations of modern poets, song writers and the world, love is a feeling.  Worldly love changes from one day to the next, something that you can lose over time.  However, a biblical love is a willful desire, which requires everything you have.  While you may experience periods of fatigue, not 100 %, faith inspires the weak to dig down deep with all your heart, soul and mind.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,                             2 Corinthians 12:9.

According to the lyrics of Stellar Kart’s song All In, “Its easier to be the crowd, to just fit in and not stand out at all; To make a case for apathy, and never risk a thing in case you fall and this is life and we all decide the stand we take and this is mine.”  This stanza accurately describes the stance most people take in this life.  However, God expects more of his children, to follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul.  By praying the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, even in your moments of weakness, Christ’s power can lead any willing soul to become all in.
by Jay Mankus

 

To Fast or Not to Fast?

In recent years, January 1st signifies the beginning of 21 day fasts for a growing number of churches across America.  Depending upon the congregation, this could mean a …

1) Daniel Fast: Eating vegetables and water based upon the events of Daniel 1:11-14.

2) Media Fast: Replacing listening and viewing habits for 3 weeks with Bible Study, prayer and soaking in worship music.

3) Traditional Fast: Limiting your diet to liquids, with stricter fasts allowing only water.

Before you jump into any commitment, you might want to consider the advice of Solomon.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. – Ecclesiastes 5:4

My advice is to take a more realistic approach.  If fasting is new to you or something you haven’t done in years, ease yourself into 21 days of fasting.  I recommend skipping 1 meal per day, the first week.  If your body is up for the challenge, limit your eating to one meal per day the second week.  However, if you find yourself gorging each meal, you might want to focus on skipping one meal per day the entire 21 days.  Make a vow you can keep, then honor it.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:4

As for what to expect, the lack of food can make individuals grumpy.  Those with medical conditions may need to opt for a Media Fast to avoid health concerns.  Beyond the pain, the insight one receives from fasting can be life altering.  While fasting during my days of teaching, several messages of discernment came to me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In addition, your perspective of food will change as fasting will heighten your sense of taste.  In the end, the choice is up to you: to fast or not to fast?

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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